It is difficult to attach romantic symbolism to a digging machine, but Tel Aviv construction workers digging a new underground light rail line under the city this week did just that.

Two digging machines, digging from opposite sides, this week connected. One is called Margaret, after Margaret Thatcher, and the other is called Golda, after Golda Meir.

The two leaders famously met in the city 41 years ago, in March 1976.

Both were their country’s first female prime minister. Both had risen from humble origins. Both had been forced to take their countries to war (the Yom Kippur War and the Falklands War). And both were nicknamed ‘the Iron Lady’.

Whether either leader would be flattered by the comparison to an enormous tunnel boring machine is up for debate, but for those digging the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area light rail red line through central issue, the names were a hark back to the past.

The two met in 1976, two years after Meir had resigned as prime minister amidst infighting over a lack of preparedness for the Yom Kippur War, and three years before Thatcher took the keys to 10 Downing Street. Thatcher’s glowing tribute to Meir and Israel was among the first of her many statements in support of the state.

The two 'Iron Ladies', Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir

The two ‘Iron Ladies’, Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir